Lindemans Kriek Lambic is a classic cherry beer every expat knows. There is an imprecise and mystical backstory to the Lambic. A magical world where special yeasts ferment in the air around Brussels (which presumably explains why Belgians seems tipsy all the time), and ancient sour ales are aged in oak barrels while mustachioed craftsmen toil silently, generation after generation, in order to make a beer that cannot be made anywhere outside of the Senne valley.
Now there’s good news, and then there’s great news. The good news is that it’s all true, the better news is that every 2 years the artisanal Geuzerijen/Geuzeries that make Lambic beers open their doors to the public, thereby creating a scavenger hunt of Belgian craft beers, and the great news is that this biennial celebration of Geuze is taking place on May 6th and 7th of this year.
Lambic is an ale that ferments spontaneously due to the yeast in the air in the Pajottenland, the region around Brussels on the Senne. This Sour base ale is then mixed with other beers to make some of Belgium’s most famous beers. If you’ve ever ordered a Kriek you can rest assured that it was made in the Senne valley. Other Lambic beers include Faro, and Geuze.
Geuze is a non-carbonated sour ale. Its rich and complex flavor profile can be off-putting to some, but it has lead many to covet Geuze beers. Simply put, the flavor of Geuze is like nothing else in the world.
The Toer De Gueze
The Toer takes place the weekend of May 6th. People from all over the world descend on this little region, and brewery hop in the Pajottenland. You can navigate the breweries yourself, or opt to take a guided bus tour. I personally like to bike to each location. The breweries offer tours, little tasting cups and sell fresh food. Two years ago some of the breweries roasted a whole pig on a spit, and that really steps up the feeling of being a pirate in the 17th century, which is why I primarily do anything really.
It may be hard to choose which breweries to visit so I’ll give you the four I visited two years ago.
A maggio torna il #ToerdeGeuze – un appuntamento per intenditori e appassionati dell’antica bevanda a fermentazione spontanea(la oude #geuze è un blend di #lambic) Ve lo diciamo prima per darvi il tempo di organizzare il #viaggio #travel #birra #birrabelga #beer #lambic #instabeer #instadrink #fiandre #turismofiandre #flanders #belgium #instagood #vacanze #holiday credits kris jacobs
This Geuzerij is in… Beersel. Their beers tend to the traditional but they also experiment with some fruits you don’t see so often. The location is Prachtig as they say in Flemish, and the room with the barrels feels like a scene from a Disney movie. The journey began with a tinge of nervousness that disappeared within seconds of entering their cave and sipping on a sour ale.
As Toer de Geuze gets closer more information about Oude Geuze Megablend is available. This year's blend will consist of lambic from Boon, De Cam, De Troch, Hanssens, Lindemans, Oud Beersel, Tilquin, Timmermans, and 3 Fonteinen. A total of 21,600 75cl bottles were produced and will be available for tasting and purchasing at all of the participating TdG locations! • • • • • • • #toerdegeuze #geuze #gueuze #boon #tilquin #decam #detroch #hanssens #lindemans #oudbeersel #timmermans #3fonteinen #driefonteinen #horalibre #lambiek #lambicinfo #lambicdotinfo #pajottenland #belgium #cellarbeer #barrelaged #beer #craftbeer #sourbeer #spontaneousfermentation #beerporn #instabeer #beerstagram 📷|@brouwerij_boon
Hanssens is as traditional as they come, in the sense that they make very little effort to cater to the more mainstream flavors. A Hanssens Geuze is complex, and leaves an almost sulfuric mineral aftertaste. The brewery is housed in an old wood lodge. There are two large rooms and a dirt courtyard with a decent handful of food options. It was raining pretty hard at this point, and the rooms smelled like crowds of wet people… but I was okay with it, it really added to the atmosphere.
Drie Fonteinen is generally regarded as the best tasting geuze. I can’t say I remember that much about the brewery, but that is very likely due to the fact that I had been drinking since 10 in the morning by the time I got there. I will say that Drie Fonteinen does, in my opinion, perfect the geuze. I bought some bottles and drank them later, so I can say with confidence that it was delicious. They also have a nice restaurant, or so I’m told.
Boon makes excellent Kriek. It’s my favorite because their new Kriek is not too sweet like a Bellevue or a Lindemans. I’ll be completely honest, by the time we got here I was just happy to be standing upright. I drink Kriek Boon if I see it on a menu. As for the brewery, I have no opinion either way. I remember having a great time, but I probably couldn’t have tied my shoes by that point.
Honorable Mention: Lindemans
For those less adventurous among us there is always Lindemans. Where other Geuze beers challenge the palate, Lindemans gives you what you want. The tour at Lindemans was amazing. They are a major brewery and they have the resources to put on a show. They get the machines going and show you the process step by step. You can literally stick your head in a 100,000 litre vat of yeast and water. Lindemans is big, there is a lot of really good food, activities for the whole family and everybody gets a free beer at the end.
The Toer de geuze is a quintessential Belgian experience. It gives you the opportunity to experience Belgian quality and craft in that typically unassuming manner. I don’t doubt that wherever you end up, and however you choose to get there you’ll have a good time, just make sure you get back safe. Lastly, The big Geuzerijen get together and mix their unique yeasts every two years and make a “Mega Blend” to mark the occasion of the Tour De geuze. Last editions megablend received a 99 out of 100.